Monday, 11 December 2017

COMFORT ZONE: Karen Booker’s cool ‘Happiness by Design’ concept invites J’cans to create their own nirvanas

WELCOME ABOARD: Booker and guests enjoy the tastefully upgraded surroundings at the Downtown-based station.

EXPERTS – not just interior decorators – agree that your living space should be treated as a sanctuary, your quiet retreat from the noise, the hustle-and-bustle of the outside world. Karen Booker has been preaching this for years. Now, the lifestyle maven (and long-certified design diva) has come up with a cool concept to better demonstrate what she’s been talking about.

On Sunday, November 26, Booker and her team invited a select group of guests down to the old railway station, adjacent to the Coronation Market, to unveil Happiness by Design, an illustration of how to enliven your personal space and create your very own nirvana. Why the old train station? Booker, a 70s girl at heart, wanted to pay homage to Jamaica’s rich cultural heritage and give a nod and a saucy wink to her roots.

“I have all these wonderful memories of growing up in Jamaica and riding the trains, so I was thinking why not draw on those iconic roots. And I’m a Downtown junkie. I’m all for the restoration of Downtown Kingston,” said Booker, outfitted from crown to sole in full flapper-era costume – an exquisite touch for a doyenne of design and haute style that extended to her staffers. They greeted guests upon arrival at the station entrance looking like dames (feather boas included), who frequented the jazz clubs you saw in Chicago. Her guys sported suspenders, newsboy caps and smart shirts.

As for the place itself, what a transformation! The old made to look gloriously new – the past and the present having a dancefloor moment to a Duke Ellington soundtrack. Happiness by Design indeed; the Karen Booker magic touch on full display. “This place was absolutely toe-up from the floor up. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Trust me, that is the truth,” she dished to TALLAWAH. “We’ve given it a fresh coat of paint and put in some seating. It’s like a breath of fresh air.”

Rented for just four hours for today’s showcase, the train coaches were done up to epitomize rustic chic – think spotless white curtains, neat plush pillows on the seats and jazzed-up lighting. In the end, a fresh challenge for Booker translated into a glorious style statement about tuning out the noise and tuning in to calm, soothing ambience for rest and relaxation and recharge. 

“In today’s world, people are bombarded with so many noisy distractions and we are forced to bring it home. But your home is not the place for that. So what I’m saying is, Turn of the craziness. Recharge. Don’t have your home be an extension of your outside life,” advises Booker, who often brings her expertise to TV audiences and magazine readers, enlightening Jamaicans on how to create happy and inviting home spaces. And the response from folks islandwide has been amazing. “Our kind of style takes a holistic view,” the creative director says. “You design your life from the inside out.”

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